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A CurtainUp Review
Forbidden Broadway: SVU Special Victims Unit
Jason Mills, Megan Lewis
Jason Mills & Megan Lewis (Photo: Carol Rosegg)
When Gerard Alessandrini put on his first edition of Forbidden Broadway at a supper club on Manhattan's Upper West Side he probably didn't realize that this was going to become the annuity every actor dreams about. But that was in 1982. The show has since moved from various cabaret venues to regular theaters in New York and has also toured the world. Through it all Alessandrini has managed to keep his claws sharpened to skewer the Broadway's hits and misses he really loves (especially musicals).

With a strong boost from Alvin Colt's hit-home satirical costumes and a constantly changing four-member cast of unknowns with great singing voices and comic flair (many have gone onto stardom as a result of their Forbidden stints), revised and re-cast editions of this light-hearted entertainment have survived even as the shows it spoofs have disappeared stood the test have gone on to the great graveyard of by-gone hits.

If you've seen as many versions as I have (or maybe even more), you'll know that some seasons' "brand-new" Forbidden Broadways are fresher and funnier than others. The last production had a few too many repeats of familiar skits and references to no longer relevant material and made me wonder if the show could survive this attack of repititis. Now that I've seen the freshly updated Forbidden Broadway: SVU, I'm happy to report that there's lots of fresh and funnier than ever material and that even previously aimed at targets have been freshened up with new costumes and by having a terrific foursome to carry off the songs and sight gags with laugh a minute pacing.

Interestingly, while the emphasis continues to be on musicals, the standout routine this time around is a two-in-one take on Cherry Jones' Sister Aloysius from the still going strong Doubt and Kathleen Turner's Martha from the recently shuttered Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Megan Lewis, one of the current cast's brightest comic divas is priceless as the purse-mouthed nun and when, her putdown of the also excellent Jeanne Montano's Turner turns into a riotous song and dance it understandably brings the house down. Lewis is bound to get some sort of an award for her hilarious interpretation of, among others, The Light In the Piazza's much more sanitized retarded young heroine and as a bushy-browed Brooke Shields bemoaning being a perennial replacement for a show's original role player.

Montano, who brings to mind one of FB's most popular and frequent performers, Christine Pedi, also has plenty of opportunity to shine -- notably as Hairspray's Marissa Janet Winokor (Alvin Colt's costume here is topped only by his inventive human car outfit for Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang), a bewigged and ruffled Kristin Chenoweth from Wicked, and as Yoko Ono who is portrayed as the ultimate perpetrator of juke box musicals (singing oh, what a terrible genre to the tune of "Oh What a Beautiful Morning ").

The two men, James Sasser and Jason Mills, also hold their own. Sasser who joined the cast just a couple of weeks ago so Ron Bohmer could move to Woman in White (I told you FB is a launching pad for stardom), somehow manages to look like all his characters. His take on the memory challenged Robert Goulet illustrates that what gives this production its oomph is that co-directors Phillip George & Alessandrini allow nothing to go on too long. Of course, the fact that Harvey Fierstein's Teyve (played by Sasser) is now married to a non-heterosexual wife, paved the way for casting Jason Mills as that wife, Rosie O'Donnell.

The duties of one-man band are ably handled by pianist David Caldwell. With the 2005-06 season only getting started, you may be sure that the Special Victims Unit will come up with plenty of other victims to bring to Allessandrinian justice.

Forbidden Broadway: 20th Anniversary Edition
Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back
Forbidden Broadway Cleans Up Its Act!
Forbidden Broadway 2001: spoof odyssey

Created and written by Gerard Alessandrini
Directed by Philip George and Gerard Alessandrini
Cast: James Sasser, Jason Mills, Jennifer Simard and Megan Elizabeth Lewis
Set Design: Megan K. Halpern
Costume Design: Alvin Colt
Lighting Design: Marc Janowitz
Musical Director/Pianist: David Caldwell
Running time:1 hour, 45 minutes with one 15-minute intermission
47th Street Theatre, west of Eighth Avenue. 239-6200.
Monday & Tuesday @ 8:15pm, Wednesday @ 2:30pm, Friday @ 8:15pm, Saturday @ 4pm & 8:15pm, Sunday @ 3:30pm & 7:30pm.
Tickets: $55.
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on October 3rd performance
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